By Sky Foster
One of the first things you will notice about Ireland is that Guinness beer is everywhere. Explore Ireland and you find it at any bar or restaurant, at any time of day. It is by far the most popular beer in all of Ireland. And, in my opinion, it tastes absolutely awful. It is a dark brown, almost black, colored beer. If it isn’t poured in a very particular way it is (supposedly) no good.
The Guinness Storehouse tour was fun and busy. The storehouse itself is shaped like a pint of Guinness. The building is one of the highest in Dublin at seven floors tall, offering a spectacular view. I am not a beer kind of girl, but I still recommend the experience of having at least one pint glass of Guinness as you overlook Dublin at the top of the building. With the purchase of a tour, you receive a free drink ticket. There isn’t much of a guided tour for the Guinness Storehouse. It is more like a free-for-all or a wandering museum.
Each floor of the storehouse has a different theme. There’s a tasting room floor, a pour your own Guinness floor, an advertising floor, and a restaurant floor. At the top, on the 7th floor, is a bar with a panoramic view of Dublin. When we went, the tasting room was closed, and the pour your own Guinness line was about an hour long. So, we took our drink tickets to the top, got our free Guinness, and looked over the city of Dublin. While it was crowded, it is something I recommend everyone do at least once while in Ireland.
The Jameson Whiskey Distillery Tour
The Jameson Whiskey Distillery in Dublin, Ireland is stunning. It’s a little hidden away from the buzzing city center, but once you get there it’s amazing. The inside was warm and beautiful, with many plants, fruits, and lights. Upon sitting down to wait for our tour, a bartender approached us. This bartender made me a specialty drink that was not listed on the menu, and let me tell you, these bartenders are the real deal! Not like those bartenders you see at your typical college bar. I truly believe I will never have a drink as pretty or as good as the drink that Jameson bartender made me. One of the best things we decided to do on this trip was the Jameson Tour. Every employee of Jameson was friendly and engaging. The tour was wonderfully intimate.
The tour begins in a room where you are able to feel, smell, and even taste the barley they use to make their whiskey. You also have whiskey in small containers that has been aged over a 1-year period, a 5-year period, and a 10-year period. You can smell and see the difference in each one. After this, we stepped into another room, which had three shot glasses waiting for us. One was filled with Jameson Whiskey, one with an American whiskey, and one with a scotch. The tour guide helped us taste and smell the differences between the three. At the end of the tour, we were given a drink ticket and received a free drink. And what’s better than free drinks?
Take a Train to Bray
On our last day in Dublin, we walked down to the train station and bought tickets to Bray. For a handful of Euros and a 30-minute train ride, we arrived in a beautiful little beach town just outside of Dublin. We spent most of the day here exploring and sitting by the beach. This is also the first place I saw dogs in Ireland, which is obviously always a plus. Large, rounded stones made up the beaches here, with hardly a grain in sight. Very different for a Florida girl like myself. Nonetheless, kids ran around like it was sand and couples laid out on beach towels, sunbathing. It looked a tad too uncomfortable for my beach going preference.
We walked around the mountain/hilly areas along the coast and we found a little cove. It was so easy to picture mermaids living there. There was a cute little restaurant nearby where you could go upstairs and sit by a window that overlooked the beach. We curled up next to the window, eating some fish and chips as we people watched. Next time I visit Ireland, I undoubtedly plan on going back to Bray and spending a night or two there. It was a beautiful and peaceful place to spend the day.
Explore the City of Dublin
Dublin is a beautiful city full of so much culture and so many hidden gems. We spent a full day just exploring and tasting different beers that (thankfully) weren’t Guinness. Ireland has a lot of brews, so never settle for just Guinness. Two of my favorite beers by the time we left Ireland were Galway Hooker and Smithwick’s Irish Ale. We even visited the oldest pub in Dublin: Brazen Head. We sat there and drank a beer while our server told us that the pub dates back all the way to 1198!
Dublin has many alleyways that have flags and lights hanging down from them. There are little bars where you can sit outside, drink, listen to music, and people watch. We also wandered through the shops and markets and purchased a few little keepsakes. Dublin was a hub for so many tourists, locals, and college students. It was nice to meet so many different people and also talk to the locals. Always remember to take a day to just look for these special places that make the cities we go to so unique.
Ireland is, by far, one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. The people are friendly, the food is good, and the sights are awe-inspiring. While there are tons of sights to see and things to do in Ireland, these four really made my trip amazing.